File Photo – Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital | Photo: Centegra Health

A state board on Tuesday approved an application from Northwestern Medicine to eliminate labor and delivery services at their McHenry hospital starting next month.

The ​​​​​Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board met Tuesday and voted 7-1 to allow the Northwestern Medicine Hospital in McHenry to close their obstetrics and gynecology department.

Beginning in January, expectant mothers will have to drive to Northwestern Medicine Hospital in Huntley for labor and delivery.

The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board previously held a public hearing on the issue in October.

Illinois State Senator Craig Wilcox of McHenry said he spoke out against the application and asked officials from Northwestern Medicine multiple questions, which he said he did not get any answers to.

“Why [was] consolidation at Huntley was chosen, instead of consolidation at McHenry, which has almost twice as many births yearly, and especially since Huntley is a mere 10 minutes from Sherman,” he asked in October.

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“This morning, I renewed my objections and expressed my deep concern that significant gaps in access and care will materialize when expectant mothers have to travel a half-hour or more to deliver their babies,” Wilcox said on Tuesday.

“Today’s decision is not in the best interest of the communities I serve in this region. By adding a minimum half-hour to the drive to the hospital for delivery, high-risk patients will be placed at greater risk for devastating outcomes,” Wilcox said.

Several fire departments in McHenry County wrote letters to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board saying they disapproved of the plan, arguing the change would delay providing high-level care to expectant mothers.

In September, Northwestern Medicine said in a statement that the consolidation of services from McHenry to Huntley was part of the hospital’s plan “to provide better care to patients of all ages.”

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“We are aligning inpatient women’s and children’s services at Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital to provide an elevated program in one location,” said Thomas McAfee, senior vice president at Northwestern Memorial HealthCare.

“With an established affiliation with Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago for 24/7 in-house neonatal and pediatric coverage, we are heightening the level of care we provide to newborns, children and parents, close to home,” McAfee said.